Following the first season of the show which adapted ‘The Golden Compass’ from Philip Pullman’s book trilogy, this second season adapts ‘The Subtle Knife’, and brings Amir Wilson’s Will Parry in as now a co-lead alongside Dafne Keen’s Lyra.
The first season of the show was a real surprise, with huge amounts of world building and large cast characters to introduce, the show still managed to also act as a strong character centred piece about a young girl caught up in a conspiracy that the fate of worlds hang on, and yet she also needs to discover about her parents, and herself.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this is one episode shorter than last season as they were unable to film the stand alone episode that would’ve followed James McAvoy’s Asriel as he ventures into new worlds and begins to build his army. However, with this episode missing, McAvoy is essentially absent from the entire season and his presence and gravitas is deeply missed.
The story of Will and Lyra in the new world, trying to work together to understand both of their places in this universe, and the oncoming battle that is coming. They have a good relationship, but an issue for me this season is that Will simply isn’t as interesting as Lyra.
Dafne Keen is brilliant in this role of Lyra but has to take much more of a backseat this season and almost act as a support to Will as he finds his place in the world. This is disappointing as she remains a much more interesting character than Will, and I hope she takes centre stage again in season 3.
Ruth Wilson is a remarkable actress and was brilliant in season 1 as the primary antagonist. However, she is slightly cast aside this season and struggling to find her purpose, but with her final act of the season (and the promise of Asriel’s return), Mrs Coulter looks set to take centre stage again.
The other two big names in the cast are the returning Lin-Manuel Miranda and new addition Andrew Scott. Pairing their characters together was an interesting decision and they bounced off each other really well, but especially now neither will be returning for season 3, it really feels like they weren’t given quite enough to do. Scott especially is a remarkable actor and is great in this role, but we only seem to scratch the surface of what he could do.
The finale of the season is easily the stand out of the episodes as all the characters do all converge from their individual strands and all come together; with major deaths, plot twists and a brilliant final scene/end credits building the anticipation for the third season, where writer Jack Thorne will again return to adapt Pullman’s work, this time to close out the trilogy.
Overall, it wasn’t quite as strong as season 1 but was still brilliantly comforting Sunday night viewing with a great budget and scale, and sets up a very compelling final season.
Rating = 3.5/5